By Nimi Thom-Manuel
The beauty of any housing estate comes when there are impressive and imposing housing units clustered in an exclusive area with the control, maintenance, and sustainability of the desired aesthetic ambience. Many housing estates exist in this country, from east to west and from north to south, but the question is how regulated are they or how do they conform with the best practices as stipulated by the United Nations or any other regulatory body?
This is the reason why the Chief Executive of Rivers State, Chief (Barr.) Nyesom Wike COW, charged the newly constituted Board of Rivers State Housing and Property Development Authority (RSHPDA), "the Authority", that the dilapidated nature of the Rivers State housing estates is of concern to him. He charged the body to move in and sort out the "mess" created in the estates. This calls for absolute regulation and sanitization of the estates.
The Board members which were well-chosen by him comprised a Chairman who works in an estate firm of international repute, estate valuers, a retired well-rounded Permanent Secretary, a senior member of the Bar, a renowned journalist and a seasoned woman leader.
These Board members are set to put in their best in regard to repositioning the Authority to meet the desired objective of His Excellency' target in this sector.
The Board members after their inauguration hit the ground running by carrying out its operational research to identify/sort out the major challenges which provided a road map to aid the anticipated operations vide the "Housing and Property Development Authority Edict No. 14, 1985, Part II, A62 and A64, among other provisions, and in part states that:- "2(a) to undertake the development, construction and management of housing estates and industrial estates; (I) to plan, development, maintain and promote beauty sports including parks and gardens in its estates or other property; (m) to control the environment within its sphere of operation generally."
First of all, the members zeroed in by having a conducted tour of the various housing estates owned by the Authority to ascertain their state of functionality. The estates include Elekahia, Rumubiakani, Rumuibekwe, Presidential, Ndoki, Marine Base, Aggrey, Abuloma Phase I, II, III; Diobu Mile I, II, 111; Port Harcourt Township, Rumuomasi and Iriebe Housing Estates.
From the inspection of the estates, the Board found the system had been turned upside down with tenants pulling down buildings and replacing them with churches, duplexes, shopping complex, etc. It was indeed a theatre of the absurd - even clusters of numerous batchers nestled with the estate buildings thus defacing the entire estate. There might have been peaks and valleys on the regulation of tenancy of these estates in the past but this time around the new team is ready to put paid to all irregularities that have pervaded the management of the estates.
Critically following their core mandate, the Authority working at full stilt to bring the estate in line with the best practices in the world; issued notices directing owners of buildings in the estate to remove all illegal structures around their buildings within a stipulated time.
Without wasting any time, the team recently went into action and pulled down all illegal structures which were earlier marked for demolition. By these bold acts, the Authority could move the needle towards bringing sanity and security in the various estates.
Regrettably, some residents were angered by this act which made them resort to protesting. They must be aware that they cannot eat omelets without breaking eggs. However, putting a human face into whatever action that has been taken by the Authority, and considering the prevailing circumstances, the Authority directs owners to come to the office of the Authority to seek permission to build security houses and fences within the estates.
In furtherance of this order, the Authority directs that all buildings, security houses, fences must be painted with the estate colour to bring uniformity in the estates.
The Authority in pursuing the administration's set goals with such single-minded purpose and dedication is ready to re-invigorate the management of the housing estates in Rivers State to serve the people better and make them revel in modernity.
Furthermore, the Authority warns that there will be regular checks in all the estates to ascertain their compliance with the rules and regulations of the Authority and that the defaulters will from henceforth be penalized. Raising the bar of performance should be the watch word of the Authority to bring out the best into the estates.
The Authority's ultimate aim is to protect the environment, identify defaulters, prevent irregularities in Rivers estates, and eventually bring in the deserved revenue for the State. Let's all join hands to restore the value of the estates in Rivers State in line with the Governor's administrative thoughts in order to bring back the garden city status of old which we are all proud of.
Nimi Thom-Manuel is a Board Member, RSHPDA